Imagine your college application being in the hand of an officer from admissions committee at your dream college. Also imagine that the day is about to end and the officer is tired of looking at application for the whole day. She has to attend a marriage ceremony at 50 minute drive from the college and it is five minutes for the office hours to get over. She takes a quick look at your transcripts and test scores. She takes a quick look through all the recommendations. She also quickly reads your essay where you have put your maximum efforts to explain yourself. You worked hard and made sure that everything goes right in the essays. But, how can you expect to get selected taking a look at the situation?

Your application essay is your tool to make you stand out among all the applicants who have submitted portfolios similar to you. After imagining the hurried situation of the admission officer, you might have wanted to make your essay better than that which motivates the officer to just skim. In such conditions you would like your writing piece to have an attention grabber, that too not in the middle and not at the end, exactly in the beginning. Such attention grabber in a piece of writing is called hook.

Hooks are used in writing to make them hungrier and persuade them to read the written piece. You will need that skill in order to stand out and make your essay reader not give up your piece.

To learn how to craft the hook for your college essay and create an opening that leaves your readers wanting more, follow the guidelines in this article.  

Deciding a topic

Your hook depends on what topic you have decided to write your application essay on. Know that your essay needs not be something that has never happened before. In the name of proving yourself extraordinary, do not forget to be true and real. Making stories on your own as well as exaggerating your experiences can be dangerous for you since pieces drafted in this way often lack coherence.

Students who have written on general topics have also seen success. Everybody has unique views regarding even general topics. So it does not matter how common topic you write one; you will always reflect your originality if you are writing yourself. You might think you do not have interesting topic to write on. Interest is not absolute, it is relative and thus depends on how you view things.  

Your essay should engage your reader in order to develop an image of you. Drafting and crafting is your work; do it with your style.

Designing a hook

It is not certain that the admission office is going to read your essay even if you bore them at the beginning of your essay. Readers would prefer reading it whole if you design a good hook in the beginning. After all nobody goes after what does not interest them.

It is difficult for a beginning writer to write a hook at first. As a beginner, one can write the whole essay first and redesign and reshape the essay including drafting a hook.

Here are the possible ways of designing a good hook:

  1. Set the scene

One strong way to get your essay moving and to draw your reader in is to open in the middle of an important scene, diving in with descriptive details and dialogue. Make the reader feel like he or she is watching a movie from your life and has just tuned in at a critical scene.

Then, once you close the scene, go back and explain its significance or give the reader the background necessary to fully understand its relevance.


I turned to look back at the audience after the announcement of victory. It was an essay competition. “Why are you looking there, hero?” a friend asked. I did not answer, but looking back at the competitors who unknowingly taught me many things in all those training days was the only thing I wanted at that time.

  1. Open with an example

If you’re describing how you developed a certain skill or a quirky achievement, consider opening with a specific example. Then, much like the scene setting above, you can go back and describe its relevance later in the essay.

  1. Open with an Anecdote

Essay can be started with a context. A relevant anecdote provides good context for your essay. Including an anecdote at the beginning of an essay can make the reader curious. If you begin your essay with a short description of an event in your life, there will be very few who would not like to learn more. Anecdotes can be general, but how you see and present them is the deciding factor. 

  1. Ask a Question

Question is a source of creativity. When you ask a question in the beginning of your essay, you plan a curiosity in the reader’s mind. The reader will continue reading your essay for answer, or at least to know why you raised that question. Do not use questions that have straightforward answers. Your question should of a kind that is broader enough in making the reader guess than give an exact answer.

In order to make sure that your college essay is reviewed in its entirety, developing a good hook is the best way. However, just having a good hook is not enough. You need to be able to keep up with the hook throughout the essay. Your essay should be meaningful and matching with the hook.


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